World Bank Spring Meeting: AHF Protests, Sparks Conversations over Free Coffee

In Global Featured by Ged Kenslea

Advocates with the largest global AIDS organization trade coffee for conversation in an effort to “Raise the MIC”

(middle-income country designations) and spotlight the World Bank’s harmful country classification system.

Coffee cart with advocates providing free coffee to passersby–and World Bank Meeting attendees—plays off AHF’s innovative prior ‘Coffee Cup’ advocacy highlighting the fact that daily per capita incomes in some World Bank-classified middle-income countries are about the cost of a cup of coffee in many developed nations.

WASHINGTON (April 12, 2019) ) As World Bank members and officials gather for the Bank’s Spring Meeting in Washington, DC this week, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) invites the public to join advocates for free coffee in front of World Bank headquarters in hopes of sparking conversation and to once again call for the Bank to “Raise the MIC” and change the way it classifies middle-income countries (MICs).

According to the Bank’s current MIC classification system, countries can be classified as middle-income when per capita income in a particular country is as low as $2.73 per day—about the price of a cup of coffee in most western or developed nations. In prior years, AHF mounted billboard, ad and advocacy campaigns targeting the World Bank using the cup of coffee comparison, touting the fact that daily incomes that low are in reality NOT middle-income.

“There is a fundamental problem with the World Bank’s classification system when it determines that a daily wage of two dollars and seventy three cents is considered middle income,” said AHF Director of Policy and Communications Denys Nazarov. “The Bank has essentially established a poverty line for developing countries that multilateral funders and pharmaceutical companies then use to determine who gets vital resources to fight disease and who do not. We are urging the World Bank to raise the MIC to ensure countries remain eligible to receive the support they need to keep their citizens healthy.”

Based on gross national income (GNI) per capita, the MIC designation can be particularly harmful in countries that creep out of a low-income status and into a middle-income classification. The World Bank artificially props up those nations with a “middle-income” label when a significant disease burden often remains with no real increased ability to combat public health issues on their own. MICs can also be straddled with costs for medicine that are up to ten times higher than in low-income countries.

“The global AIDS response has enough obstacles to overcome without having to deal with an arbitrary economic classification further disrupting efforts,” said AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy Terri Ford. “Funding has been stagnant for several years, and there are still far too many new HIV infections. We must be able to get resources to those who need them most, and people in ‘middle-income’ countries are among that group. The World Bank should raise the MIC so we can get to work ending HIV/AIDS where it hits people the hardest—in the developing world.”

Everyone, including World Bank staff, is encouraged to look for AHF and have a cup of complimentary coffee with advocates to discuss this pressing public health issue. It will take a concerted effort to fight infectious disease throughout the world, which cannot happen with harmful policies in place. Join us on April 12 at World Bank Headquarters to “Raise the MIC” and help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic!A

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